Clever, fast-paced fantasy punctuated with surprising twists and plenty of girl power.

RIVAL MAGIC

Rival apprentice wizards join forces when their teacher is accused of treason and their island is threatened.

Twelve-year-old Antonia lives on the island of Medasia and dreams of becoming a wizard. Currently studying magic with Master Betrys, Antonia has a brilliant command of the technical aspects of wizardry, but her innate magical power is limited. Then Moppe, also 12, an uneducated girl with “olive skin…a shade darker” than Antonia’s, arrives as under-cook. Barely able to read, Moppe’s a powerful, untrained magical prodigy who instantly becomes Master Betrys’ newest apprentice and Antonia’s rival. When rebels seek to find the lost crown of Medasia and liberate the island, Antonia’s politically powerful mother orders her to find the crown first or forget her magical studies. After Master Betrys is arrested on suspicion of supporting the rebels, her rival apprentices use Antonia’s magical knowledge and Moppe’s magical power to search for the crown, hoping to clear their teacher’s name. Surviving the Forest of Silent Fears, outwitting the voice-stealing Speakthief, and deposing a warmongering mermaid, Antonia and Moppe recover the lost crown only to face a shocking betrayal, testing their newly forged friendship. Antonia’s lively first-person narration lends immediacy and suspense to this compelling, complex adventure filled with capable, fully dimensional, brown-skinned women.

Clever, fast-paced fantasy punctuated with surprising twists and plenty of girl power. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3905-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Dizzyingly silly.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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